When Val and Graham Thomas picked the first harvest in 2000, they produced just 147 bottles. This was the first demonstration that their trial plantings were successful and it was clear that vines could be successfully grown on this unique site. Initially the grapes were sent over to a winery on the mainland to be processed, but as the yields increased an granite barn on the vineyard was converted to create our very own winery and this is where St Martin's wine has been produced ever since. This building has thick stone walls which help provide a stable year-round temperature and plenty of space for storage of the wine-making equipment. It is often said that grapes should be sourced and grown no more than 10 minutes drive from where they are processed - here on St Martin's the grapes are grown, picked, de-stalked, pressed and fermented all within a 2 minute walk on our 5 acre site.
Typically, grapes are fermented as individual varieties in the autumn - in some cases this could be 1000 litres of a widely-planted vine such as Orion, whilst other varieties such as chardonnay will only ever produce 50-100 litres from our 60 vines. Luckily we have a range of fermentation vessels to suit every run!
After harvest, the grapes are transported down to our winery and then tipped into the hopper of the crusher/de-stalker. They pass between a pair of rollers which crack the skins before moving on into a chamber which pulls the grapes from the stalks. From here they are might first be fermented on the skins in the case of a red or rose, or otherwise transferred straight into the hydropress which ensures gentle but effective extraction of the juice which flows out.
The juice is allowed to settle for a day or two and then racked off the sediment before yeast is added and fermentation is allowed to proceed. We check for sugar levels, acidity and taste throughout the process, making adjustments where necessary until fermentation is complete when we rack again to take the young wine off the dead yeast cells. The wine then spends the winter developing in one of the tanks until spring, usually around Easter before opening for the season, when we taste the single varieties, decide whether each will be a varietal (such as our Orion and Seyval) or a blend (such as the Reserve) and then bottling and corking takes place.
Finally the wines are stacked in our bonded store ready to be capped, labelled and sold! If you would like to sample one of our wines, but the Isles of Scilly are a little too far to pay us a visit in person, head to our online store to browse our current cellar and order wine to be delivered to your door in plastic-free recyclable packaging.